Hollege? Holleer? What Matters Are Mentors

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Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg will have a new model of education as part of his legacy. In September 2010, Mayor Bloomberg made the announcement on television that a unique collaboration had been made by the City University of New York and IBM to create a high school-college hybrid that merges high school with two years of college, allowing students to earn an associate's degree.

The announcement led to a collaboration by the Department of Education, New York City College of Technology, the City University of New York and IBM.

I attended Mayor Bloomberg’s 2012 State of the City address, and it was great to learn that one of the educational endeavors for the year includes opening three additional 9-14 models like the school where I am the founding principal, Pathways in Technology Early College High School.

Chicago also plans to open as many as five 9-14 models, seeing them as a way to ensure that students get a leg up on their college careers.

There is no better time than now to enter new vocabulary into the lexicon to name the 9-14 models. I am suggesting holleer and hollege.

A holleer is a collaborative effort among a high school, college and career-related industry, which creates a pathway from high school through college to a career.

A hollege is a hybrid between high school and college that creates a pathway from high school through college.

Maybe someone else can come up with a catchier name. The floor is now open for nominations.

Meanwhile, the key to making either the holleer or hollege successful will be mentors.

Mentors have been the role models that I have needed to bridge the missing gaps between home life and work life, and I am forever grateful to those who have helped me learn new skills and shepherded me along the way from poverty to middle class.

At P-Tech, we have a workplace-learning curriculum, a 90-minute course that every student takes daily in which they learn the real-world skills of the corporate workplace.

A cornerstone of the workplace-learning curriculum is the mentoring portion that allows every ninth grader to be paired with a professional from IBM for the year. The students interact face to face and online through Mentor Place, IBM’s online portal for mentoring.

Oct. 14, 2011, was one of the most inspiring days of my career, and the interactions of the mentors and P-Tech scholars were beyond exciting. There were more than 100 IBM staff members on site for the kick-off, and it was great to see them visit the Paul Robeson Campus in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn where the school is located.

So often students are taken outside of their community to be shown opportunities in industry, but in October the P-Tech scholars were allowed to dream with their eyes open as industry came to their community to show them future possibilities through mentoring.

Call it a holleer or a hollege -- or something else. In the end, it's not what it is named, but what it does to help students make the transition to career or college, with mentors to help along the way.